Onion Fail

So, I’ve gotta confess something: I stink at growing onions.

In past years, I’ve used onion sets and never got much out of them in terms of size. I’ve heard that starting onions from seed tends to produce larger onions and stronger plants, so this year I set out to start all of mine in flats. No store-bought sets for me! I ordered two types of onions back when Peaceful Valley was having their 2012 clearance sale, not realizing that onion seeds have a pretty short shelf life.

My germination rates were super low – out of a 128 cell flat, I think maybe 20 seeds germinated. Even less grew into a healthy plant that went out into the garden.

So, after realizing my mistake in using 2012 seeds, I ordered two more varieties from Baker Creek, packed for 2013. My germination rates weren’t much better with these guys. I moved them out into the poly house about two weeks after starting them in the basement, and their growth has completely stalled.

At this point, I’m kind of at a loss. I used a store-bought starter mix that didn’t seem to affect the germination rates of anything else (cabbages, broccoli, etc). I tried to follow the directions for planting depth and soil temperature as best as I could. I know it’s not very warm out in the poly house but I assumed it would be a better environment for them than under grow lights in my basement.

I guess not everything is bound to do well! I’ve had a lot of luck with my brassica crops, and am having good results with the eggplants and edamame I started in the flats last week. I guess one crop out of the many I’ll be growing isn’t so bad. I will try buying some plants to supplement my own. I’d really like to have some onions from our garden to store for the fall and winter.

Any tips and tricks do starting onions from seed?


One Comment to “Onion Fail”

  1. Onions from seeds take eons. While waiting for your onion seeds to do their thing, cut the butt off an onion and tamp it firmly in the ground, an inch below the surface and in a sunny location. Soon you’ll have a nice leek. I do this every time I cook, and I plug onion butts anywhere, everywhere and 365.

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